DNP Confirms Absorption of Three Major Nutrients through Mini-Guts Created from Human iPS Cells

Results published in Nutrients, an International Journal

Tokyo, February 8, 2022, Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. (DNP) is proud to have been able to contribute to confirming the effectiveness of a 3D human intestinal organoids, otherwise referred to as mini-guts, in absorbing the three major nutrients, namely, carbohydrates, protein and lipids.

This discovery was made while conducting joint research with Hidenori Akutsu M.D., director of the Department of Reproductive Medicine at the National Center for Child Health and Development, and a paper related to this joint-research was published in the January 19, 2022 edition of Nutrients, a peer-reviewed, open access journal of human nutrition published semi-monthly online by MDPI.


Schematic diagram of absorption measurement

Observation images of endothermic reaction of labelling reagent, in green, using mini-gut


There has been increased awareness of the effectiveness of diet in the prevention of life-style diseases, and companies, such as food companies, are promoting food for specified health uses along with foods with functional claims. The three major nutrients that are indispensable for maintaining health, namely, carbohydrates, protein and lipids, are in the main absorbed through the intestines, and such nutrient absorption has become a significant point for evaluation in the development of foods with functional claims. Functional verification of nutrient absorption has traditionally been carried out using experimental animals, such as mice or rats. However, there has been a move to prohibit such animal experiments from the standpoint of animal welfare, following stipulations from the World Organization for Animal Health, regarding the physical and mental state of an animal in relation to the conditions in which it lives and dies.

In addition, since mice and rats are a different species from humans, the results of animal experiments cannot always be reflected on an as-is basis in humans. As a result, it has been pointed out that the effect of food ingredients on human nutrient absorption and absorption processes has not been clearly proven.

To address such challenges, DNP and the Department of Reproductive Medicine at the National Center for Child Health and Development used a mini-intestine created from human iPS cells that are closer to humans than mice or rats. We have analyzed the absorption functions of the three major nutrients, and presented them as a possible application using a new absorption evaluation tool.

Research Outline

It was known that the mini-gut has a 3D structure similar to that of a living body and is capable of acting on various functional materials while maintaining its own shape. The latest study confirmed that the fluorescently labelled three major nutrients were absorbed while the mini-guts maintained its 3D structure, and that when the ingredient with a glucide-suppressing effect acted upon the mini-gut glucide absorption was, indeed, suppressed. Furthermore, AI-based measurement software developed by DNP was used to measure the size of the mini-gut. For further information in Japanese, please visit

Social Impact of Research Results

Currently, amid global demand that animal rights be respected, there is a need for the suspension or reduction of animal testing, in particular, in the food area there is an urgent need for the development of substitute methods for animal testing. As a result, great expectations are held out for the mini-gut that is structurally and functionally similar to the human intestine, as an alternative technology.

Looking Ahead

DNP will utilize the nutrient absorption functions of the mini-gut, and will collate various needs that could lead to application in the nutrient area, such as food ingredient absorption assessments and new discoveries, while also pushing forward with further development. At the same time, we will promote new alternative technologies, including the proposal of mini-guts as an R&D evaluation tool to a wide variety of companies and organizations.

DNP Regenerative Medicine Initiatives in the Medical Healthcare Field

We are focused on developing new businesses in the medical healthcare field by leveraging our strengths in printing and information (P&I) technologies. DNP was the first Japanese company to commercialize materials capable of the stable culturing of cells in various patterns using thin film multi-layer patterning technology in 2008. We also manufacture thermo-responsive culture substrate that can be cleanly peeled off in the form of cultured cell sheets when the temperature is lowered. Looking ahead, we will further improve the quality and performance of special cell culture substrate, and promote the development of non-destructive format cell quality control technology utilizing cell image analysis technology.

Nutrients paper

  • Title: Xenogeneic-Free Human Intestinal Organoids for Assessing Intestinal Nutrient Absorption
  • Authors: Makoto Inoue, Yuichi Tanaka, Sakiko Matsushita, Yuri Shimozaki, Hirohito Ayame and Hidenori Akutsu
  • URL:

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